Dave here, just making note of an historic occasion, the airing of the final new episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. A show we all know, a show so many of us watched and loved over the years.
Today, as for so long, much of our television, children's television included, is marked by a lack of substance or meaning. As in film, television is marked by a fast-paced format, with quick cuts, pop music, and other appeals to the attention defecit disorder afflicted population we are all a part of.
Of course, one of the nice things about Mister Rogers' Neighborhood was that it aired on PBS, which meant it aired without commercials for the tons of plastic garbage that retailers continue to foist upon the nation's children, even if it occasionally asked those children and their parents to pledge money in exchange for a mug. In any case, the show was the work of a true visionary, it didn't change with the times based on perceived commercial appeal.
Fred Rogers has been and continues to be one of the most truly talented people on earth. A gifted pianist and songwriter, and the driving force behind one of the greatest shows ever produced for children. As if that isn't enough, he's a prolific author, whose many books regarding and for children are understanding, creative, and most importantly, worthwhile.
Most prominently, though, he has served as a Zen master for a nation whose people, children and adults, desperately need a calming influence. Of the many shows for children I have seen, the prevailing trend seems to be either an interest in selling product, such as the frighteningly brilliant and all-encompassing world of Pokemon, or in packing vast amounts of stimulation into a show, either in the form of information, as seen in shows like Sesame Street, or in a more raw form, perhaps for stimulating rapid neuronal ganglia formation, as seen in the oddly hypnotic Teletubbies.
Apart from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, I can think of no other show that does a better job of teaching children how to actually handle all of this information. How to really deal with the world, which is so full of problems, for children and adults alike. Fred Rogers has a voice that is more soothing than most parents, and a general peacefulness about him that is instantly reassuring. He offers wisdom to his viewers that they can use in their lives. Simple, clear, and true ideas that are not only key to growing up and being able to live independently, they are the keys to living interdependently in a civilized society. On no other show in all of television is such a message presented more consistently, more effectively.
We are extremely fortunate to have had Fred Rogers in our living rooms for so long, and to have had so much of his kindness and wisdom recorded for future generations. It's hard to think of anyone on Earth who is likely to have more adoring fans, or fewer enemies. I'd like to wish Mr. Rogers the very best for many years to come, and to thank him for all that he has given to his country and the world. Very few people I know of have lived their lives better, for better purpose, or by better means.
Thank you, Mister Rogers.